Dutch election 2017: Geert Wilders is leading the election race over Prime Minister Mark Rutte
Frontrunner Mr Wilders, who is running a eurosceptic anti-immigration campaign, has dubbed the March 15 election the start of a "patriotic spring" in Europe as Germany and France are due to go to the polls later this year.
Mr Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV) go into the election after leading opinion polls for most of the last two years.
The PVV is expected to take 20 per cent of the popular vote compared to prime minister Mark Rutte’s 16 per cent.
Mr Wilders hopes to take the Netherlands out of the EU, close the border to Muslim immigrants and to reinstate Dutch currency
If successful, Mr Wilders hopes to take the Netherlands out of the EU, close the border to Muslim immigrants and to reinstate Dutch currency.
The Netherlands, a country of 17 million, relies heavily on foreign trade and in 2005 rejected the European constitution and last year voted down a treaty for closer EU ties with Ukraine.
But a straightforward election win is not guaranteed for Mr Wilders.
The Netherlands’ fractured political landscape means a coalition government of at least four parties is inevitable.
A simple majority is generally sought to govern, but all but one party have ruled out sharing power with Mr Wilders, with his policies branded offensive and sometimes unconstitutional.
Mr Wilders will go head-to-head with Mr Rutte of the conservative VVD Party in a televised debate on March 13.
The prime minister is hoping a strong economic recovery will restore his party’s popularity which suffered during the austerity years of 2012-2014.
Mr Wilders' party is expected to take 20 per cent of the popular vote
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Prime Minister Mark Rutte's party is expected to take 16 per cent of the popular vote
With 31 parties competing for votes, it is thought at least 14 will take at least one seat in the 150-member parliament.
Kristof Jacobs, a teacher at Radbout University in Nijmegen, said: "The overwhelming majority of Dutchmen basically do not vote for Wilders.”
The election comes after Mr Wilders was convicted of inciting discrimination for leading supporters in a chant that they wanted "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!" Moroccans in the country.
Mr Wilders pictured with Marine Le Pen said he is leading a "patriotic spring" in Europe
It is thought if the PVV wins the election but is unable to form a government, Mr Rutte will try to forge a centrist coalition with several parties that share little more than opposition to Wilders.
Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said if that happens "we will stay put and manage the country until there is a new coalition”.
He added the situation could continue for “years” under the Dutch constitution.
Geert Wilders: These are the Party for Freedom leader's policies Wed, February 8, 2017
Noteworthy policies that Geert Wilders mentions in his party program.
Play slideshow 1 of 14
With official campaigning underway a poll by Motivaction found 61 per cent of respondents see Dutch politicians as "elitist, unreliable and dishonest".
Around 37 percent of likely voters said they hadn't decided who to vote for.
Renee Keijzer, from the town of Volendam, said: "I find it difficult to make a decision. So much has happened in the world that it is hard to position yourself properly."
- 'ARE YOU A FASCIST?' Geert Wilders quizzed by veteran BBC journalist
- France and Dutch EU votes expected even if Wilders and Le Pen LOSE
- NEWSNIGHT: Geert Wilders slams ‘TOTALITARIAN’ EU